4.229 OKRKL/9 Jinju Jib: Ggori Tomak

-Cycle 4, Item 229-
22 (Thu) August 2013

OKRKL/9 Jinju Jib: Ggori Tomak


at Jinju Jib [진주집]

-Namchang (Namdaemun Market), Seoul-

with Wife

Given 100 landmark restaurants listed in the book Old Korean Restaurants that Koreans Love (OKRKL) (한국인이 사랑하는 오래된 한식당) (see generally 4.173 OKRKL/1 Woo Lae Oak...), I'm taking it upon myself to visit and review as many as I can.  For obvious reasons, I'll start with the 28 restaurants in Seoul, which I hope to complete within this cycle.

This is the 9th restaurant, in no particular order, to be reviewed (see previously 4.223 OKRKL/8 Yeolcha Jib...).

Down one of the market's inner alleys.

Customers waiting in line to get in.

By 11:30, the place was already at capacity.

The mezzanine level, which wasn't in use, despite the line of waiting customers.

The 2nd floor was also full.

Jinju Jib specializes in boiled beef dishes.  The signature item is ggori gom tang, specifically the ggori tomak (꼬리토막), which is the same soup only with larger chunks ("토막") of the tail ("꼬리").  Intent on boiling down the entire cow, the restaurant also offers naejang gom tang (내장곰탕) (intestine soup), jok tang (족탕) (hoof soup), dogani tang (도가니탕) (knee cartilage soup), and seolleong tang (beef bone soup); the same parts are available in the form of suyuk (수육), boiled but without broth.  

Indeed, the menu represents the way that beef was cooked and consumed by the masses back in the day.  Simmering a piece of meat into a broth, especially a cheap/tough cut, plus the bones and icky bits, was and remains the most cost-effective way to maximize usage.  Nowadays, of course, as beef is relatively affordable, the preferred methodology is grilling (i.e., "Korean BBQ"), which was popularized during the mid-80s.  

The prices aren't cheap.  The basic soups range from 6,000 to 8,000 won, which is reasonable.  But the braised oxtail, to cite the most expensive example, goes for 60,000 won, steep considering that it's Australian beef, not Korean.

As per tradition of most beef soup restaurants, the kimchi is self-serve on the table.

I was satisfied by the ggori tomak, but not overwhelmed.  While the broth had a clean/clear beef flavor, it wasn't as rich or deep as I would've liked.  Same with the meat itself.  Frankly, I think that my home rendition may be better.  At 19,000 won, for two large pieces of tail, way way way overpriced.

Without thinking, I dumped the garlic-chive-chili-soy-vinegar condiment into the bowl...

Nevertheless, for the first time in this OKRKL series, I felt that I was actually eating in an "old Korean restaurant that Koreans love."  At most of the previous 8 restaurants, my experiences thus far have been disappointing in one way or another.  Woo Lae Oak certainly seemed to be loved, but it's so modern and mainstream that it didn't give off an old vibe (see 4.173 above).  Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan seemed old and loved, but not by Koreans (see 4.206 OKRKL/5 Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan...).  Yeolcha Jib didn't seem old or loved by anyone (see 4.223 above).  When I purchased the book, anticipations high, Jinju Jib is the kind of place that I'd hoped to be introduced to, even if I didn't personally enjoy the food.    

...Literally right beside our table, this newspaper blowup explains that the condiment is meant for dressing the meat on the side; in the soup, it made the broth too tart.

According to OKRKL, Jinju Jib was founded in 1950, the 15th/16th oldest restaurant listed in Seoul (tied with another (see 4.215 OKRKL/6 Myeong-Dong Halmae Nakji...)).  Thankfully this time, no bullshit origin stories, just a straightforward statement that the restaurant has been a culinary landmark for over 60 years in Namdaemun Sijang, Korea's oldest market dating back 600 years, Asia's largest outdoor market to date.  Good enough.  

As in a recent post (see 4.204 OKRKL/4 Hwanghae Sikdang...), the meal photographed/described above was for lunch.  But again, to get around the technicality, I purchased an order of the soup to go and had it for dinner once more at home.

Address: Seoul Jung-Gu Namchang-Dong 34-31 (서울시 중구 남창동 34-31)
Phone: (02) 318-7072
Hours: open 24 hrs.; closed on holidays
Parking: none
Menu: Korean, Japanese
Wingspoon Rating (as of this writing): 6.24 (33 reviews)

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